How to safely watch a solar eclipse
We can’t even blame Canada this time – smoke from the British Columbia wildfires cleared out over the weekend, and Whatcom County’s air quality has returned to “Good,” according to the Washington State Department of Ecology. But that may not be enough.
With what’s been dubbed “The Great American Eclipse” now less than a week away, long-range weather forecasts show Whatcom County and much of Western Washington are unlikely to have crystal-clear blue skies to view the Aug. 21 event. But don’t give up hope yet.
According to a story predicting viewing conditions on AccuWeather.com, Western Washington is in a band of “Fair” viewing conditions that stretches from the northwest corner of California up into British Columbia. At least we’re not in the “Poor” conditions belt that hugs the Oregon and Washington coasts up to the Olympic Peninsula.
AccuWeather meteorologist Dave Samuhel predicted the best cloud conditions nationwide will stretch from the interior Northwest (east of the Cascades) into Kansas and Nebraska. Conditions from the Mississippi River Valley to the Atlantic Coast along the path of totality also will range from “Fair” to “Poor.”
The National Weather Service echoed AccuWeather’s prediction with a Facebook post of a map predicting the amount of cloud coverage during the solar eclipse, which for Whatcom County is scheduled to start at approximately 9:10 a.m., reach its maximum eclipse (about 86 to 88 percent in Whatcom County) at about 10:21 a.m. and conclude around 11:40 a.m. According to the map, all of Western Washington could see 50 to 70 percent cloud coverage during the event.
The good news is there are still nearly seven days left for the forecast models to change, and, at this point, nobody seems to be predicting that we will be completely socked in with clouds.
In the event we do get a clear look at the obscured sun, you may want to check your eclipse viewing glasses. Amazon is issuing full refunds, according to a story on KGW.com in Portland, Ore., for customers who purchased viewing glasses “that may not comply with industry standards.”
If you want to check yours out, NASA provided a list of reputable vendors of solar filters and viewers.